Learn who your state-level elected representatives are, and the bills they’re discussing, with the Open States search tool.
One of the good things that came from the Trump era was a general increase in interest in how the government worked, or failed to, on all levels–federal, state, and local.
The Open States project originated in 2009 but only recently gained the attention it has long deserved.
It offers must-bookmark tools that help you identify who your state-level legislators are and help you track legislation moving through the state’s Congress.
Knowing what’s happening at the state level was always important and it has only grown more important in the wake of the 2020 election. Republicans have steadily focused on winning elected office at all levels, no matter how seemingly insignificant or obscure, and those wins have helped them pursue the goal of slowly, steadily shifting the country further to the right, even as the American electorate disagrees with many right-wing policies and expresses support for seemingly left-wing policies in poll after poll.
Republicans are using their powers to try to pass bills that would cripple voting rights in their home states. In January 2021, the Brennan Center reported that 28 state legislatures had introduced more than 100 bills that would stomp on their citizens’ ability to access the ballot box.
The state legislators who represent you might be among those who are pushing these noxious bills.
If you phone or email them to tell them you support or oppose their votes on specific state-level bills, your efforts will have an effect. Reading OTYCD makes you more politically active than most. A vanishingly small group of people are able to name their state-level legislators, and even fewer tell them how they feel about live legislation moving through the state Congress.
So! Your task today is to bookmark Open States and use its search tool to find your state legislators. It’s on the right of the page at this link:
Once you know who they are and how to phone them, pull up the January 2021 Brennan Center report on voting rights, read the report, and see if your state is one of the 28 with legislatures attempting to restrict the right to vote:
Sometimes the Brennan Center report cites chambers and numbers for specific state bills. In other places, it just names a state. Point being, you might need to use Open States’s Search & Track Legislation tool to unearth bills moving through your state Congress that intend to curb voting rights. You might need to plug the words “voting” or “elections” into the search engine to find relevant bills. The legislation tool is at this link and appears on the left:
If your state-level elected representatives are Republicans who are sponsoring or supporting anti-voting rights bills, call them and tell them you are not happy about that.
If your state-level elected representatives are Democrats who have introduced or supported new bills that would protect and expand voting rights, call them and say “Thank you! You’re doing what I want you to do.”
Then, if you can spare the funds, run their names through ActBlue, see if they’re listed, and give them a donation. Consider if you can donate to them on a monthly basis.
Periodically use Open States to pull up the names of your state reps and see what bills they’re championing. Call them to say “thank you, more like this, please” or “hey, I don’t like that one bit, please stop” as needed.
When you can, use the legislation tracker to search on words related to topics that matter to you: free speech, abortion, public schools, gun control, natural resources, etc. If you find a bill you like, ask your reps to vote for it. If you find a bill you hate, ask them to vote no.
See the main Open States page, which is the same link we’ve directed you to for the search tools:
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